KDSL Global interviews Sue Beers

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Our KDSL Global Intern recently had the opportunity to interview Sue Beers, the Executive Director of MISIC. Now serving 160+ school districts in Iowa and other states, MISIC began in 1998 as a collaborative between 15 school districts in central Iowa.

 

What inspired you to work in education and curriculum? 

My mother and grandmother were teachers. I just followed in their footpaths! My interest in curriculum development came for designing my own lessons and curriculum, as we had no state or local curriculum guides. I received a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction and while doing that study, became intrigued with not only writing curriculum, but leading others in this work as well. As a Director of Curriculum for 19 years, I had the opportunity to work with teachers from all content areas and grade levels to design and implement high-quality curriculum.

 

Tell us about the books you have written for ASCD.

As a former language arts teacher, literacy has always been my passion. Early in my career, I discovered that I had a significant number of high school students who were reading below the 5th grade level. I also realized that even my high-performing students were unable to independently process and understand the content-area text that they encountered. Many had simply stopped reading and waited for teachers to tell them what they needed to know.

I started researching and studying how to help students use text to learn in all content areas. This has been my lifelong passion and resulted in my writing 5 Action Tools for ASCD in the area of literacy in the content areas. The books were Reading Strategies for the Content Areas, Reading Strategies for the Content Areas Volume 2, Writing to Learn in the Content Areas, Adolescent Literacy, and Teaching 21st Century Skills, which included a great deal of literacy connections.

In addition to literacy, I am passionate about providing high-quality professional development programs for teachers and administrators. ASCD asked me to develop a set of tools for this, resulting in another action tool on this topic.

 

 

What is the importance of integrating literacy skills in science curriculum?

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standards include alignment to the literacy skills students need to be able to read, write about and talk about science concepts. If one knows a lot about science, but cannot share that knowledge by communicating with others, the advantage of that knowledge is loss. If they cannot read science content, they will miss a key method for gaining science knowledge. There are specific tools and methods for reading science that need to be explicitly presented to students. Science teachers are not asked to be reading and writing teachers, but rather to use reading and writing to help students learn their science content. Science teachers need to help students unlock the content by giving them the tools they need to comprehend the unique structures, vocabulary and nuances of scientific language. In addition, they need to provide opportunities for students to write about their learning in order to deepen and sharpen their understanding.

 

To learn more about MISIC visit http://misiciowa.org.

 

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Making connections among a myriad of initiatives and supporting learning through humor and example are professional passions for Sue Z. Beers.  In workshops delivered across the country, Sue shares strategies and tools for creating effective learning opportunities that prepare students for college, careers and citizenship.  Improving teaching and learning will necessitate that teachers, administrators and district personnel participants deeply examine their own current practices against best practices.

Sue’s 40-year career as a classroom teacher, program coordinator and district administrator has provided her with hands-on experience in the areas of effective teaching and school improvement.   As the founder and current Director of the MISIC Consortium, Beers works with over 160 school districts in Iowa and other states in guiding the alignment of curriculum, instruction and assessment in order to improve student learning.

As a consultant, speaker and ASCD Consultant, Sue has shared her expertise and experience with school districts and educational organizations nationally and internationally to improve teaching and learning in the areas of

  • Using Professional Learning Communities to Achieve Effective Instructional Change
  • Leading the Implementation of the CCSS: Strategies and Resources
  • CCSS Implementation in Literacy and Math Classrooms
  • Key Shifts of the CCSS in Literacy and Math
  • Reading and Writing Strategies in the Content Areas
  • Literacy Across the Curriculum
  • 21stCentury Teaching and Learning
  • Professional Development Planning
  • School Improvement Planning
  • Effective teaching strategies
  • Curriculum Development
  • Assessing Student Learning
  • Using Data to Inform Instruction

 

Sue co-authored ASCD’s “Leading the Common Core” professional development institute and is also the co-author of Reading Strategies for the Content Areas:  An ASCD Action Tool, Volumes 1 and II  and Using Writing to Learn Across the Content Areas:  An ASCD Action Tool.   She has also authored an ASCD Action Tool on Strategies for Designing, Implementing and Evaluating Professional Development, Adolescent Literacy and Teaching 21st Century Skills.

 

 

Our KDSL Global Fellow at FLIBS

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The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme is a VERY rigorous programme for scholars at select primary and secondary schools. This programme’s international component is unique, but in a way that can be beneficial for today’s learners. This program has intentionally modeled the standard college experience. After the completion of this program, scholars earn advanced college credits and have the potential for scholarships. After receiving an invitation to be sent to training with the Florida Association of IB World Schools (FLIBS), there was no way I could decline. In this blog post I will share with you my recent experience.

The first day of training was the most beneficial for me. This day was used for opening the floor for questions from my group. Our instructor would address each of our main concerns about the curriculum of IB. I have to make one small disclaimer as to why this worked for my group. The biology group was a small one, consisting of seven educators. This was the best part for me! It allowed the instructor to be more personal with our questions, comments, and concerns, which made it a more engaging and valuable. I’m sure that most people who love their content felt eager to expand their professional development making day one the most exciting. Day two was spent breaking down the three core elements that every scholar has to show mastery on in order to obtain the diploma. The three core elements are Theory of knowledge (TOK), extended essay (EE), and creativity, activity, and service, which is often referred to as CAS. The three core elements are similar to what you would see in college. For example, when I was a biology major during university the only “papers” I had to write were in my general education classes. My life was creating a schedule for myself to finish labs and the reports that went with them. Congruently, this is what an IB scholar would experience in their science content course. If you are immersed in the world of IB, then time management and organization is imperative. As per my instructor, not often does IB request certain material from you, but if you are audited, it is best to keep documentation on what is happening in your class. Day three was a half day to recap on anything that may have been unclear and to tie everything we had learned together in a way we can feel confident to implement IB practices in our classroom this fall.

Overall, I had a great experience at training! My instructor did a phenomenal job of pacing, integrating hands-on tasks, and clarity of explaining which really made me want to be invited into his classroom. In the future I hope to return to FLIBS for level 2-3 training.

 

Tiffany Johnson
9th Grade Biology Teacher
KDSL Global Fellow
Website: www.kdslglobal.com
Twitter: @KDSL07 and @sayscienceTEM

Closing the STEM Gap

A new study called “Closing the STEM Gap” published in March 2018 by Microsoft surveyed more than 6,000 girls and young women on their interests and perceptions of science, technology, engineering and math. They found that girls lose interest in STEM careers as they get older. What can be done? The study cited recommendations to change this narrative. This included: role models and mentors, exposure to real-world examples of STEM, hands-on experience through participation in STEM-related clubs and activities, and encouragement from parents and educators could.

Our KDSL Global Fellow Tiffany Johnson recently interviewed one of her students to find out her perception about STEM after attending Interactive STEM Development Seminar for Underrepresented Students hosted by the Woods Educational Enrichment Foundation in Chicago. This was an additional program Johnson, who is implementing the recommendations in the study, suggested to her students.

This purpose of the seminar was to introduce and expose students to STEM career options and provide hands on experience with real world topics and projects leading to the development of the students as future leaders in the STEM fields.

 

What are your feelings about STEM?

“I feel like STEM is great for all kinds of people.  It allows you to dive more in depth about the world, technology, etc.”

 

Do you see yourself as a person who would pursue a career in the STEM field? If so, which field and why?

“Yes, I see myself pursuing a career in sciences, specifically psychology or sociology, becaucareese I like to study the functions of the brain, the actions of humans, and why people do the things they do.”

 

What did you do at the STEM event you attended?

“At the event, I had to design a functional hand using cardboard, sticks, tape, and string.  I also made slime.  The instructors that were there were African American men who knew a GREAT deal about STEM.”

 

How would you describe your feeling about STEM? Are you intimidated? Do you feel like you would be supported as you pursue a career in this field?

“I am supported greatly by my family and different teachers who push me to join the STEM field.  My feelings towards the STEM field are that I think it offers different opportunities to different types of people to work in an advanced field.  Also, I feel like being a part of this field, I would be able to represent African-Americans in a positive way.”

 

To learn more about Woods Educational Enrichment Foundation visit https://www.weefchicago.org/

 

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Meet Janessa, a high school scholar interested in STEM and recent participant in the Woods Educational Enrichment Foundation in Chicago.

Encouraging students to consider a career in teaching STEM*

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Profile on Julio Mendez: Science teacher, lifelong learner, and founder of the STEM Education Introductory Program

As well as being a busy Physics and Chemistry teacher in Chicago, Julio Mendez has founded the innovative STEM Education Introductory Program – it gives high school students the opportunity to earn college credit through a series of lectures and hands on teaching practice at a local middle school. We ask him all about the project, and how it came about.


You are a science teacher – where do you teach, and what led you down the path of both STEM and teaching?
 

I teach Physics, Chemistry and the Education 101 class at Perspectives Charter School – Joslin Campus, in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood. I also teach Engineering courses (Project Lead The Way curriculum on Saturdays) through Project SYNCERE. This is a non-profit in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood.

Teaching is a second career which found me more due to circumstance than through any active effort. I had returned to school for a Physics degree and was looking for a part time job when my wife suggested I look into Project SYNCERE. I decide to go interview and try it, and the rest is history, as they say. I fell in love with the kids’ ability to look past all the crap they are dealt and still seek knowledge. Having been raised on Chicago’s south side and dealing with a lot of the social issues they are living with made me relatable and my natural sarcastic demeanor and ability to look past slights allowed me to create good relationships with the students. I saw at once that this is where I needed to be and then I just found ways to keep pushing myself to learn, grow and sharpen my craft.

The STEM part is easier to explain: I’m a nerd. I love science and all that it tells us about the universe, I always have. I also understand the need for our communities to be better represented within these fields. We have been neglected for a long time and those who looked away are now realizing that they will need us in order for the world to continue its progress.

 

What inspired you to set up this program encouraging high school students to consider a career as science teachers?

When I was considering become even just a part time teacher, I started looking into the profession and the history of teaching and learning. I came to the realization that education is one of the oldest forms of community building that there is. Until recent human history, we have learned everything from the previous generations in our communities. From hunting and gathering, to planting and growing and so on, we learned it all from our elders, who did it before us and learned it from their elders.

When the opportunity with the Shell Oil Company and the Smithsonian Science Education Center and their call for applications came to my attention I knew the solution had to come from within the community, to create a new lineage of education. There is also a long tradition of finding “fixes” for our communities from outside, as if we hadn’t the talent or abilities to be the solutions ourselves. I have seen our children do some incredible things and come up with some huge ideas that would amaze the greatest thinkers, but because they don’t show high scores or even high rates of high school graduation, their ideas and grand thinking and potentials aren’t acknowledged.  Given all this I knew that the solution to a lack of science teachers of color had to come from our own ranks, the students of color. It was just a matter of convincing the kids they could be the solution and that being a teacher is a viable career (harder than it seems) and convince all the powers that be, this is a viable solution (harder than it should be).

 

Could you describe your aim in setting up the Education 101 program? Who is it designed for and what will they learn?

The biggest aim for the program is to give students of color the opportunity to see themselves as STEM subject teachers. Let them see a side of teaching that they don’t get to see; mostly because they have a very different experience with the teaching profession. They do not have the opportunity to see a lot of themselves in these roles, so they can’t identify with the profession. They just need to see they can and some might.

The students in the class are exposed to the history of education in the country, including the injustices our communities have gone through, the  definition of what a STEM teacher needs to be, exposure to informal science education, observing teachers, the complexity of the classroom, the preparation for lessons, reading and writing college level papers. This will be set around Socratic discussions and group projects that will be catered to the students’ abilities and raising expectations at every turn.

Was the creation of your program partly in response to the lack of diversity found in the teaching profession?

The creation of the program most definitely has to do with the lack of diversity in teaching. It is very difficult to be a teacher of color within a system which serves mostly students of color and yet we are an overwhelming numerical minority, especially in the STEM subjects.

 

A Student’s Perspective: Here’s what one of the course participants, Jada Woodard, has to say about the Program

Why did you apply?

I applied to the Education 101 course because I am thinking about being an educator. I thought it would give me the upper hand when I do attend college to study education. In addition, I wanted to find out if it was really something that I wanted to do.

What’s the best thing about the course?
The best thing about the course is that I am able to learn about the previous educational system, the current educational system, and the future of the educational system. I love that I am able to give my perspective as a student while learning the perspective of a teacher. We are able to talk about topics within the educational system that others aren’t willing to talk about, students of colors and teachers.

What’s the hardest part of the course?
The hardest thing about the course is actually putting yourself in the shoes of an educator. My student mindset slightly limits my ability to think like an educator. It is something that we as a class are working on to do.

What are you learning right now?
At the moment, we are learning how to effectively make lesson plans. In a month or sooner, we will able to teach this lesson plan/activity to a middle school class using the five aspects of an effective classroom that we have learned.
I think the reason there are not many STEM teachers of color is because of the lack of knowledge and resources. I think that in some schools STEM is a luxury. Although we do get taught science and math, it’s not taught or introduced in a way that makes it relevant to engineering and technology.

 

To learn more about the STEM Education Introductory Program contact Julio Mendez at jmendez@pcsedu.org.

 

*STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Reflections on the EARCOS Teacher Conference 2017

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Dr. Craig Gabler, our USA based science consultant, reflects on his recent experience as a facilitator in Asia. Gabler has been serving schools and science educators around the world with KDSL Global since 2014. He served as a writer for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), worked on Washington state science standards writing teams, and spent several summers as Mentor Teacher in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pre-Service Teacher program at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

In April I had the opportunity to present at the EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools) Teacher Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Teachers and administrators from over 100 schools were in attendance at this 3-day conference.

For those who know me, it goes without saying that some of my presentations dealt directly with the NGSS and how to make those standards come to life in the classroom. I also had the chance to engage attending science teachers in a session targeting formative assessment and in another session on strategies for engaging students in engineering. I was blessed with not only excellent attendance in these sessions, but also with attendees who were highly engaged in the learning opportunity.

The theme for the EARCOS conference was “Connecting Global Minds.” I would like to draw from that theme for a brief reflection on my experiences in both the Middle East and East Asia. In supporting science education, I have had the pleasure to work with teachers of science from all across the United States, from across the Middle East region and now from East Asia. What struck me while in Malaysia was the fact that teachers of science from around the globe are indeed connected. We all share a deep desire for our students to succeed and to value science. What I have found is, regardless of region, that that desire drives us to ask the same hard questions – about engaging students with the NGSS, about encouraging students to have an interest in STEM, and about managing and preparing our classrooms for that success.

As science educators we are a part of a global network, united by our passion for science and for our students. I celebrate that there are gracious and giving teachers of science across the globe. I also celebrate that there are organizations like KDSL Global and EARCOS, to name just two, that bring learning opportunities and resources to the network. As we continue on this path of serving our students, it is important to reach out to those organizations and to our colleagues for continuing support. Don’t go alone.

Please know that KDSL Global and I are here to support your science journey.

 

Craig Gabler, KDSL Global Science Consultant
gablerct@gmail.com
www.kdslglobal.com

To read the KDSL Global white paper on NGSS in MENA American Curriculum schools visit http://kdslglobal.com/NGSS%20in%20MENA%20American%20Curriculum%20Schools.pdf.

To learn more about EARCOS visit https://www.earcos.org/.

 

10 to know in education in the UAE in 2017

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In celebration of ten years serving the global education community we are highlighting ten to know in education in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in 2017. The UAE was selected since the founder has been based here the majority of the last ten years. Each person will be shared throughout this year. Our eighth person to know is Shady Elkassas.

Since his childhood, Shady Elkassas looked forward to a career in teaching and is committed to maintaining high standards and practices in the education of young people. He has a Master’s of Science in Education, Executive Management Diploma, and a Bachelor’s of Science.

Shady believes that the capstone of education is to give every student equal opportunities to learn. For this reason, the true educator is the one who acknowledges, respects, and appreciates students’ diverse backgrounds, learning styles, intelligence, and abilities. From this perspective, he has centered his teaching repertoire around this idea and searches for the best way to meet students’ individual needs. As a head of department, he communicates the same message to his team members. He articulates a vision and mission for the science department that meets the short and long term goals. Additionally, he has taken the initiative to adopt the project-based learning and inquiry based learning methodologies to create a new foundation of STEM learning in his school. Shady strongly believes that leadership has a strong influence on education reform. This vision is shared both inside and outside of the school. He has been selected to be a speaker at TEDx and three international education conferences such as Global Educational Supplies and Solutions Exhibition (GESS) 2016 & 2017 and Fatih Educational Summit in Turkey 2016. Shady was also a GESS education award finalist for 2016 & 2017.

For the past few years Shady has been associated with Sharjah American International School. He joined as High School Physics Teacher and currently handles dual responsibilities as Head of Science Department and Academic Coordinator. As Academic Coordinator he oversees departmental recruitment, staff and faculty training, and organizes academic events. As Departmental Head, he ensures departmental objectives are met, facilitate quality education for students, and supervise staff. For a significant duration, Shady taught Physics and was successful in generating a growing interest in the subject among students. He delivered interactive lectures, solved student difficulties, and completed all course-work in time. With Robotics being of particular interest, Shady led the School Robotics team and supported them win many awards at international events.

 

Twitter: @profshady
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/vol7815
Website: http://profshad9.wixsite.com/saispd
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shady-elkassas-19935b7b
Blog: https://sites.google.com/site/profshady/

KDSL Global Releases White Paper on Next Generation Science Standards in MENA American Curriculum Schools

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DUBAI, UAE, February 14, 2017 – KDSL Global today released its first white paper which examines the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in American curriculum schools in the MENA region and in the USA. KDSL Global is a USA and UAE-based leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally. This white paper is entitled “Next Generation Science Standards in MENA American Curriculum Schools.”

Kevin Simpson, KDSL Global Managing Director states, “Throughout the MENA region, schools and educators are working very hard to implement the Next Generation Science Standards. KDSL Global felt it was opportune to discuss the status of the implementation process in the US and in the region, as well as spotlight tools and resources for policymakers, school administrators, and teachers to create awareness around NGSS and help successfully deploy the science standards.” The white paper features the results of an NGSS survey administered to MENA educators in 2016 that tabulated their impressions of the standards. In addition, there are resources educators and administrators can use to support implementation.

Dr. Gabler, NGSS writer and KDSL Global Science Consultant added, “The NGSS are for all students and provide a framework for moving student learning from just ‘learning about’ to students ‘figuring out’.” Dr. Sunder, KDSL Global Associate Partner, agrees,”Implementing the NGSS in the classroom: it’s about the exciting creative struggle of exploring and engaging in scientific discovery together.” Sunder has recently collaborated with numerous groups on a document entitled “Aligning the NGSS with the IB curricula.” More can be found here http://www.ibo.org/news/news-about-the-ib/aligning-the-next-generation-science-standards-ngss-with-ib-curricula/.

The white paper can be downloaded at: https://tinyurl.com/jtfvvj7
The team has an NGSS Institute coming up in March at Clarion School in Dubai. Visit http://kdslglobal.com/NGSS%20Institute.pdffor more information.

 

KDSL GLOBAL PRESS CONTACT
+971 50 745 5827
Kevin Simpson, kevin@kdslglobal.com
www.kdslglobal.com

KDSL Global Founder will serve as a mentor

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KDSL  Global Founder Kevin Simpson has been selected to serve as a mentor at the Smithsonian Science Education Center and Shell Oil Company’s Teacher Leadership Summit: Attracting, Retaining, and Developing a Diverse STEM Teaching Workforce this February 2017 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. At this summit, teams of educators will create a plan for attracting, retaining, and developing a diverse STEM teaching workforce in their districts to become catalysts for systemic change.